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“Inclusion before Diversity” – Key takeaways from the TTC breakfast event

Diversity & Inclusion, Events, Technology...

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On Wednesday 15th Jan, I was lucky enough to go along to the Tech Talent Charter annual breakfast event for the very first time. Working for Spinks, a signatory of Tech Talent Charter, I already knew a little about their work to drive diversity and inclusion in tech. However, I don’t think anything could have prepared me for the amount of insight and knowledge I received that morning!

I arrived at the Gherkin bright and early to take advantage of the networking opportunity (and also the tasty breakfast!) I started chatting to quite a few new and familiar faces before being directed upstairs for the main event.

  

There was a definite buzz in the room as everyone took their seats and the event kicked off with an intro from Debbie Forster CEO of Tech Talent Charter (also winner of the Most Influential Women in Tech award). Debbie shared an upbeat video showing the work and success of TTC’s work in 2019 – with a very catchy soundtrack, might I add! A great opener before introducing the first panel to discuss ‘How far we’ve come’ with diversity and inclusion.

The panel consisted of:

George Brasher, Senior Vice President & Managing Director at HP

Kirsty Keck, Chief Product Owner for Tech Talent at Nationwide Building Society

Hema Marshall, Small Business & Inclusion and Diversity Officer, UK & Ireland at Cisco

Ross Woodham, General Council, Privacy & Data Protection Officer at Aptum

Lots of key takeaways from this discussion, and a great insight into how larger tech companies are taking action to bring greater diversity and create inclusive cultures.

  • Big companies must find a way to think small – George Brasher
  • Make inclusion one of your core principles in the workplace. Everyone should take accountability - Hema Marshall
  • Embrace flexible working for everyone - Ross Woodham
  • Bring in people with new capabilities, but balance that by also upskilling your current staff - Kirsty Keck
  • It’s not about fixing people, it’s about fixing the system - Kirsty Keck

Some really great points raised, definitely gave us some thoughts to discuss during the quick break as the second panel got ready.

The second panel started shortly after to discuss ‘Where we are now’. The panel consisted of:

Lexie Papaspyrou, Annual Report Project Lead at Tech Talent Charter

Dania Lyons, Customer Engagement Manager at Spinks

Elaine Quinn, Director of Corporate Affairs at Nominet

George Windsor, Head of Insights at Tech Nation

Now if anyone saw me applauding very enthusiastically and taking a load of pictures, it’s because my colleague/friend Dania was on the panel, and I felt like a proud parent at their child’s first school assembly!

Lexie shared some findings from the Tech Talent Charter annual report on Diversity in Tech, which was a key driver in the discussion. Here are some of my takeaways:

  • 77% of directors in small to large tech businesses are men - George Windsor
  • You can have real impact at local / regional level - Debbie Forster
  • In order to try and shift the gender imbalance in tech, women should be given more opportunities to reskill - Lexie Papaspyrou
  • Always aim to have at least two women on the shortlist when recruiting for a role - Elaine Quinn
  • Ensure you only work with clients and suppliers whose diversity and inclusion values align with yours - Dania Lyons.

Dania also mentioned the work that Spinks does to educate the tech community and create a forum in which everyone can discuss and share initiatives. You can find out more and get involved with #YouEqualTech here. (I admit, this is a shameless plus, as I’m a Co-organiser of #YouEqualTech events!)

Really interesting to hear snippets from the report. Keep reading, I’ll be sharing the link to the report towards the end of this post!

Panel three took the stage shortly after, to discuss ‘Where we’re going next’. The panel consisted of:

Jacqueline de Rojas, President at techUK

Russ Shaw, Founder at Tech London Advocates

Jennifer Standish, Engineering Academy Manager at Sky

Gill Wylie, Enterprise Transformation Director at Lloyds Banking Group.

  • Only 49% of Tech Talent Charter signatories have a retraining / return to work programme - Jacqueline de Rojas
  • Create opportunities for women who didn’t necessarily study STEM subjects at university but have the mindset and transferable skills for a tech role.  This not only opens opportunities internally, but for other businesses too - Jennifer Standish
  • Larger organisations can support smaller companies to invest in their diversity and inclusion, so they don’t need to recreate the wheel - Russ Shaw
  • We should be aiming for inclusion first, then diversity - Debbie Forster
  • We should be looking at inclusion in all forms. For example, ensure that introverts have their voice heard in meetings - Jacqueline de Rojas


Inclusion and diversity should be an integral part of your company growth strategy. Therefore, if growth is priority, so is inclusion and diversity. 

 Russ Shaw

Personally, this really opened my eyes to the ways we can make to work together and make an impact within the whole industry. There is a lot to do, but small changes can make a tremendous difference.

We were then introduced to the Keynote Speaker for the morning, Nicky Morgan, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

There was a real sense of excitement in the room as we listened to Nicky share the five key principles for the government to make tech more accessible:

  1. We will be a pro-tech government in all we do.
  2. The benefits of tech will be spread more widely and fairly, creating opportunities across the entire nation. All businesses will be given the right tools to adapt to digital tech and all adults will be given opportunities to upskill for free.

If we don’t open the door to underrepresented groups, we will be robbed of the diversity of thought which creates cutting edge innovation.

Nicky Morgan

  1. Drive growth through pro innovation regulation, which will increase demand for digital products and services.
  2. Ensuring online spaces are safe and secure for all. A cyber security campaign will be launching this year.
  3. Commitment to a free and open internet.

I left the event with a load of ideas in my head of the changes I can make in my own role to promote inclusion for all.

A HUGE thanks to Debbie Forster and the Tech Talent Charter team for hosting such an engaging event, and continuing the crucial conversations on diversity and inclusion (or should I say, inclusion and diversity!).

Now for the important bit – all the resources you need to help shift the dial on inclusion and diversity, and transform the tech industry.

Watch the whole event here

Download the 2019 Diversity in Tech report here

View the Open Playbook of Best Practice, sponsored by Spinks

Sign Up to the TTC, joining nearly 400 other organisations.

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